Children's Vocabulary: How to Improve Vocabulary in Grade School

The vocabulary that your children learn in grade school prepares them for a lifetime of learning in any subject. With each new word, kids become better readers, writers and speakers. Read on for ways you can help your children improve their vocabulary.

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How Does Vocabulary Develop in Grade School?

Most children learn a new word every day, but not all of them remember the new word unless it's incorporated into their everyday communication. Your child's vocabulary is most influenced by conversations at home or in school; however, he or she will also pick up many new words through reading.

In kindergarten, your child may recognize the correlation between speech and printed words, as well as knowing letters and letter sounds. At this stage, he or she can start learning to read independently and write. By 5th grade, your child will understand more complex words and be able to use them in essays and research papers.

How Can I Help Improve My Child's Vocabulary?

Use New Words in Different Ways

When your child is learning a new word, use this word in several different ways to help her understand its various contexts. You can also try this method with homonyms - words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings - so she can understand them. For example, you can demonstrate how the woman rose from the chair and show her the rose that's blooming on the bush. This visual reinforcement will help her remember the different meanings or ways words can be used.

Read Aloud and Often

Reading to your child is one of the most fundamental ways of helping him acquire vocabulary. Point out each word to him as you say it so you can emphasize the connection between the spoken word and the text. Stop on an unfamiliar word and allow him to study it. Explain the word's meaning and help him think of other ways to use the word.

Provide a Dictionary

If your child is an independent reader, give her a pocket dictionary and keep a larger one at home. Encourage her to use the dictionary on-the-spot when she encounters words she doesn't know. Alternatively, give her a small notebook so she can write down any unfamiliar words to look up later. Ask her to review these words with you daily to ensure that she understands the words' meanings and contexts.

Encourage Conversations

Have conversations with your child every day. Don't shy away from using words that are unfamiliar to him. Make sure to use descriptive language. If he uses a word that you haven't heard him use before, ask him where he learned it and what it means.

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